Dozier Internet Law chases a lot of scofflaws. Sometimes the subject matter is copyright infringement, sometimes trademark infringement, often hacking and defamation. A reporter interviewing me last week was surprised to learn that individuals posting information online were not entitled to absolute anonymity and was surprised that you could subpoena information to identify the source of the publication of defamatory information in the airline industry. That got me to thinking a little about the knowledge base of most netizens.
Yes, you can be identified. For every instance in which Public Citizen wins a case preventing the disclosure of the identity, I suspect they turn down dozens of cases they know they can't win. There is no absolute right to privacy or anonymity online. Identities are disclosed everyday in litigation through a process called "discovery". And most people leave pretty good tracks. If the plaintiff is obviously going to lose the case, the courts won't let the plaintiff use discovery to identify a defendant. But if the case is arguably valid, there is no problem with issuing extensive and far ranging discovery to locate and identify a defendant. And it is a process used often by lawyers, but an issue not publicized by the extreme left wingers very often. That way, each "victory" they claim sounds signficant. But most, frankly, are irrelevent or at least not significant. At Dozier Internet Law we go after these anonymous types often, and with great success. Rarely does Public Citizen get involved. When they do, their involvement is an anomaly. We don't publicize all of the cases in which we are identifying, through discovery, anonymous scofflaws, but from the volume of press release type emails and blog entries flowing from Public Citizen, I can understand this reporter's misunderstanding.